• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). There are daily reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

Active Speaker Recommendations for USA (by @sweetchaos)

sweetchaos

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
The Curator
Joined
Nov 29, 2019
Messages
2,834
Likes
7,667
Location
BC, Canada
I'm constantly asked which speakers to purchase...so, here you go! :D
This guide is for ACTIVE speakers. For PASSIVE speakers go here.
Click on the "Spoiler" buttons below to expand each section.
What market are these recommendations for?
USA, with USD prices listed below

Does this include discontinued speakers?
No, since i'm only counting speakers that are currently sold at major retailers/resellers in the US.

What is the preference score?
The preference score (introduced by Sean Olive) (also sometimes called "Olive score") is the best science-based representation we have on how to classify whether a speaker (either active or passive) is preferred or not. A more neutral speaker will get the best preference score, and will likely win in a blind listening test, comparing two speakers. You can read about it here.

What are the limitations of the preference score?
1. Distortion handling
Amir and Erin (from ErinsAudioCorner) talk about this in their reviews, so you can take a look there.
Distortion handling of a loudspeaker is usually secondary to frequency response. Meaning, a great frequency response and poor distortion handling speaker will still be preferred over a poor frequency response speaker with great distortion handling. A great example of this is the fact that JBL 305P/306P/308P MKII speakers have higher-than-normal distortion, but because of their relatively neutral frequency response, a lot of people still enjoy them.
2. Loudness handling
Amir and Erin (from ErinsAudioCorner) talk about this in their reviews, so you can take a look there.
In terms of loudness handling, I've made a few notes to speakers below.
3. Your own preference for wide or narrow directivity
In terms of directivity, I haven't added this information below, but I could if enough people show interest.

Accuracy of data:
There are a few speakers in this list that weren't measured using Klippel NFS (that Amir and Erin have), which provides very accurate spinorama. A less accurate (in terms of resolution) spinorama can be made using quasi-anechoic methods as described in this post.
If you see * => We have quasi-anechoic spinorama or similar, but the speaker wasn't measured using Klippel NFS.

Are you biased in any way?
I purchased JBL 305P MKII prior to joining ASR, and Genelec 8040B last year after I read a few Genelec reviews. Read into that what you will.

How did you make this list?
I looked at all the speaker spinorama that we have and their computed preference score and compiled this list.
I also mention a few speakers of note, and talk about which speakers to avoid at a certain price point, based on my own understanding.

What is the limitation of this guide?
Blind reliance on measurements can be misleading ‐ one needs to tie those measurements back to subjective perception. Amir and Erin (from ErinsAudioCorner) both give their overall opinion on speakers, so feel free to read the written reviews.

What am I showing?
Top 3 speakers in terms of preference score, plus other worthy picks (explained in the legend).

What's the difference between Amir's and Erin (from Erin's Audio Corner) distortion charts?
Amir shows "Non-Anechoic" harmonic distortion.
Erin shows "Anechoic" (using Klippel ISC module) harmonic distortion.
They are similar, but not exactly the same.
Erin explained it in this youtube video
Which makes a direct comparison between Amir's and Erin's distortion graphs inaccurate (unfortunately).
Amir talked about why he stopped doing Anechoic harmonic distortion here.

LEGEND:
ValueDescription
#1Best rated-speaker in terms of preference score. Update: I set the threshold at 3.0, ignoring speakers below it.
#22nd best-rated speaker in terms of preference score.
#33rd best-rated speaker in terms of preference score.
WorthyWorthy picks that either Erin (from ErinsAudioCorner) or Amir measured and recommended. From Amir, I included all "highly recommended panther" award winners, plus the recommended picks (that I chose). Erin doesn't give a 'highly recommended' award like Amir does, but after reading Erin's review or watching the youtube reviews, I get the sense that Erin highly recommends that speaker. Plus I've included a few models that weren't measured by neither Amir or Erin, but still for consideration, since we can predict will be good, based on similar model's measurements.
PSPreference Score (with no subwoofer added). Value can be negative (for really badly designed speakers) and goes up to a 10 (theoretical limit). Higher is better.
PSwSubPreference Score (with theoretically-perfectly-integrated subwoofer added). Value can be negative (for really badly designed speakers) and goes up to a 10 (theoretical limit). Higher is better.
LFXLow Frequency Extension (in hz). This is the bass output at -6db point. This was computed, not estimated. Lower is better.
RLResponse Linearity. This is the response linearity test that Erin (from ErinsAudioCorner) provides when he tests his speakers. The below graphic indicates just how much SPL is lost (compression) or gained (enhancement; usually due to distortion) when the speaker is played at higher output volumes instantly via a 2.7 second logarithmic sine sweep referenced to 76dB at 1 meter. The signals are played consecutively without any additional stimulus applied. Then normalized against the 76dB result.
*We have quasi-anechoic spinorama or similar. However, this speaker wasn't measured using Klippel NFS (that Amir and Erin have), so it's resolution is less accurate. Warning: This will artificially boost the preference score higher than if the same speaker was measured using NFS.
**No spinorama for this specific model. I'm including it because we have multiple other spinorama from the same manufacturer, so it's not a stretch to imagine these will be good.
RedNew speaker added to the table for this price point.

Active Speakers Under US$150/pair:
RecommendationPSPSwSubLFX
Neumi BS5P (with a new internal EQ provided by Neumi and ports stuffed) (Erin) (RL)4.47.368
Edifier MR4 (Amir) (Erin) (RL)3.56.158
Monoprice MM-3 (Erin)3.45.750

Active Speakers Under US$300/pair:
RecommendationPSPSwSubLFX
Neumi BS5P (with a new internal EQ provided by Neumi and ports stuffed) (Erin) (RL)4.47.368
IK Multimedia iLoud Micro Monitor4.0*6.249*
RCF Ayra Pro5 (Amir)3.96.148

Active Speakers Under US$350/pair:
RecommendationPSPSwSubLFX
JBL 305P MKII (Amir) (Erin) (RL)5.27.343
Pioneer DJ VM-50 (Erin) (RL)5.27.448
Neumi BS5P (with a new internal EQ provided by Neumi and ports stuffed) (Erin) (RL)4.47.368

Active Speakers Under US$400/pair:
RecommendationPSPSwSubLFX
Kali LP-6v2 (Erin) (RL)5.87.739
Behringer B2031A^5.5*7.336*
JBL 305P MKII (Amir) (Erin) (RL)5.27.343
^ Amir purchased a unit, but it was defective.

Active Speakers Under US$450/pair:
RecommendationPSPSwSubLFX
Kali LP-6v2 (Erin) (RL)5.87.739
Behringer B2031A^5.5*7.336*
JBL 306P MKII (Amir)5.37.138
Adam T5V (Amir)4.46.748
^ Amir purchased a unit, but it was defective.

Active Speakers Under US$550/pair:
RecommendationPSPSwSubLFX
JBL 308P MKII (Amir)5.87.536
Kali LP-6v2 (Erin) (RL)5.87.739
Behringer B2031A^5.5*7.336*
Adam T5V (Amir)4.46.748
^ Amir purchased a unit, but it was defective.

Active Speakers Under US$700/pair:
RecommendationPSPSwSubLFX
JBL 308P MKII (Amir)5.87.536
Kali LP-6v2 (Erin) (RL)5.87.739
Behringer B2031A^5.5*7.336*
Kali IN-5 (Erin) (RL)5.47.341
Genelec 8010A (Amir)5.17.967
Adam T5V (Amir)4.46.748
^ Amir purchased a unit, but it was defective.

Active Speakers Under US$800/pair:
RecommendationPSPSwSubLFX
JBL 308P MKII (Amir)5.87.536
Kali LP-6v2 (Erin) (RL)5.87.739
Klipsch The Fives (Erin) (RL)5.67.948
Kali IN-5 (Erin) (RL)
Kali IN-8v2 (Erin) (RL)
5.4
5.4
7.3
7.2
41
39
Genelec 8010A (Amir)5.17.967
Adam T5V (Amir)4.46.748

Active Speakers Under US$920/pair:
RecommendationPSPSwSubLFX
JBL 308P MKII (Amir)5.87.536
Kali LP-6v2 (Erin) (RL)5.87.739
Klipsch The Fives (Erin) (RL)5.67.948
Kali IN-5 (Erin) (RL)
Kali IN-8v2 (Erin) (RL)
5.4
5.4
7.3
7.2
41
39
Genelec 8010A (Amir)5.17.967
Adam T5V (Amir)4.46.748
Focal Alpha 65 Evo (Amir)4.36.138

Active Speakers Under US$1,000/pair:
RecommendationPSPSwSubLFX
JBL 308P MKII (Amir)5.87.536
Kali LP-6v2 (Erin) (RL)5.87.739
Dynaudio LYD 5 (Amir)5.78.358
Kali IN-5 (Erin) (RL)
Kali IN-8v2 (Erin) (RL)
5.4
5.4
7.3
7.2
41
39
Genelec 8010A (Amir)5.17.967
Adam T5V (Amir)4.46.748
Focal Alpha 65 Evo (Amir)4.36.138

Active Speakers Under US$1,100/pair:
RecommendationPSPSwSubLFX
Neumann KH 80 (Amir)6.28.448
JBL 308P MKII (Amir)5.87.536
Kali LP-6v2 (Erin) (RL)5.87.739
Genelec 8020D5.7**??47**
Kali IN-5 (Erin) (RL)
Kali IN-8v2 (Erin) (RL)
5.4
5.4
7.3
7.2
41
39
Adam T5V (Amir)4.46.748
Focal Alpha 65 Evo (Amir)4.36.138
-Genelec 8010A is no longer mentioned since 8020D exists at this price point.

Active Speakers Under US$1,400/pair:
RecommendationPSPSwSubLFX
Genelec 8030C (Amir)6.38.546
Neumann KH 80 (Amir)6.28.448
JBL 308P MKII (Amir)5.87.536
Kali IN-5 (Erin) (RL)
Kali IN-8v2 (Erin) (RL)
5.4
5.4
7.3
7.2
41
39
Adam T5V (Amir)4.46.748
Focal Alpha 65 Evo (Amir)4.36.138
-Genelec 8010A or 8020D is no longer mentioned since 8030C exists at this price point.

Active Speakers Under US$1,500/pair:
RecommendationPSPSwSubLFX
Neumann KH 120A6.7*8.7*42*
Genelec 8030C (Amir)6.38.546
JBL 308P MKII (Amir)5.87.536
Kali IN-5 (Erin) (RL)
Kali IN-8v2 (Erin) (RL)
5.4
5.4
7.3
7.2
41
39
Adam T5V (Amir)4.46.748
Focal Alpha 65 Evo (Amir)4.36.138
-Neumann KH 80 is no longer mentioned since KH 120A exists at this price point.
-Genelec 8010A or 8020D is no longer mentioned since 8030C exists at this price point.

Active Speakers Under US$2,300/pair:
RecommendationPSPSwSubLFX
Neumann KH 120A6.7*8.7*42*
Genelec 8040B6.3**??36**
JBL 308P MKII (Amir)5.87.536
Kali IN-5 (Erin) (RL)
Kali IN-8v2 (Erin) (RL)
5.4
5.4
7.3
7.2
41
39
Adam T5V (Amir)4.46.748
Focal Alpha 65 Evo (Amir)4.36.138
-Genelec 8010A or 8020D or 8030C is no longer mentioned since 8040B exists at this price point.
-Neumann KH 80 is no longer mentioned since KH 120A exists at this price point.

Active Speakers Under US$2,800/pair:
RecommendationPSPSwSubLFX
Neumann KH 120A6.7*8.7*42*
Genelec 8040B6.3**??36**
JBL 308P MKII (Amir)5.87.536
Kef LS50 Wireless 2 (Erin) (RL)5.87.842
Kali IN-5 (Erin) (RL)
Kali IN-8v2 (Erin) (RL)
5.4
5.4
7.3
7.2
41
39
Adam T5V (Amir)4.46.748
Focal Alpha 65 Evo (Amir)4.36.138
-Genelec 8010A or 8020D or 8030C is no longer mentioned since 8040B exists at this price point.
-Neumann KH 80 is no longer mentioned since KH 120A exists at this price point.

Active Speakers Under US$3,700/pair:
RecommendationPSPSwSubLFX
Buchardt Audio A500 (Erin) (RL)6.97.721
Neumann KH 120A6.7*8.7*42*
Genelec 8040B6.3**??36**
Kef LS50 Wireless 2 (Erin) (RL)5.87.842
Kali IN-5 (Erin) (RL)
Kali IN-8v2 (Erin) (RL)
5.4
5.4
7.3
7.2
41
39
Adam T5V (Amir)4.46.748
Focal Alpha 65 Evo (Amir)4.36.138
-Genelec 8010A or 8020D or 8030C is no longer mentioned since 8040B exists at this price point.
-Neumann KH 80 is no longer mentioned since KH 120A exists at this price point.

Active Speakers Under US$3,800/pair:
RecommendationPSPSwSubLFX
Buchardt Audio A500 (Erin) (RL)6.97.721
Neumann KH 120A6.7*8.7*42*
Genelec 8050B (Amir)6.37.527
Kef LS50 Wireless 2 (Erin) (RL)5.87.842
Kali IN-5 (Erin) (RL)
Kali IN-8v2 (Erin) (RL)
5.4
5.4
7.3
7.2
41
39
JBL 708P (Amir) (Erin) (RL)5.06.838
Adam T5V (Amir)4.46.748
Focal Alpha 65 Evo (Amir)4.36.138
-Genelec 8010A or 8020D or 8030C or 8040B is no longer mentioned since 8050B exists at this price point.
-Neumann KH 80 is no longer mentioned since KH 120A exists at this price point.

Active Speakers Under US$4,500/pair:
RecommendationPSPSwSubLFX
Buchardt Audio A500 (Erin) (RL)6.97.721
Genelec 8331A (Erin) (RL)6.78.639
Neumann KH 120A6.7*8.7*42*
Genelec 8050B (Amir)6.37.527
Kef LS50 Wireless 2 (Erin) (RL)5.87.842
Kali IN-5 (Erin) (RL)
Kali IN-8v2 (Erin) (RL)
5.4
5.4
7.3
7.2
41
39
JBL 708P (Amir) (Erin) (RL)5.06.838
Adam T5V (Amir)4.46.748
Focal Alpha 65 Evo (Amir)4.36.138
-Genelec 8010A or 8020D or 8030C or 8040B is no longer mentioned since 8050B exists at this price point.
-Neumann KH 80 is no longer mentioned since KH 120A exists at this price point.

Active Speakers Under US$4,850/pair:
RecommendationPSPSwSubLFX
Buchardt Audio A500 (Erin) (RL)6.97.721
Genelec 8331A (Erin) (RL)6.78.639
Neumann KH 120A6.7*8.7*42*
Genelec 8050B (Amir)6.37.527
Kef LS50 Wireless 2 (Erin) (RL)5.87.842
Kali IN-5 (Erin) (RL)
Kali IN-8v2 (Erin) (RL)
5.4
5.4
7.3
7.2
41
39
JBL 708P (Amir) (Erin) (RL)5.06.838
Adam T5V (Amir)4.46.748
Focal Alpha 65 Evo (Amir)4.36.138
Genelec 1032C******
-Genelec 8010A or 8020D or 8030C or 8040B is no longer mentioned since 8050B exists at this price point.
-Neumann KH 80 is no longer mentioned since KH 120A exists at this price point.

Active Speakers Under US$5,000/pair:
RecommendationPSPSwSubLFX
Buchardt Audio A500 (Erin) (RL)6.97.721
Genelec 8331A (Erin) (RL)6.78.639
Genelec 8050B (Amir)6.37.527
Neumann KH 310A (Amir)6.37.730
Kef LS50 Wireless 2 (Erin) (RL)5.87.842
Kali IN-5 (Erin) (RL)
Kali IN-8v2 (Erin) (RL)
5.4
5.4
7.3
7.2
41
39
JBL 708P (Amir) (Erin) (RL)5.06.838
Adam T5V (Amir)4.46.748
Focal Alpha 65 Evo (Amir)4.36.138
Genelec 1032C******
-Genelec 8010A or 8020D or 8030C or 8040B is no longer mentioned since 8050B exists at this price point.
-Neumann KH 120A and KH 80 are no longer mentioned since KH 310A exists at this price point.

Active Speakers Under US$5,900/pair:
RecommendationPSPSwSubLFX
Buchardt Audio A500 (Erin) (RL)6.97.721
Genelec 8341A (Amir)6.98.635
Genelec 8050B (Amir)6.37.527
Neumann KH 310A (Amir)6.37.730
Kef LS50 Wireless 2 (Erin) (RL)5.87.842
Kali IN-5 (Erin) (RL)
Kali IN-8v2 (Erin) (RL)
5.4
5.4
7.3
7.2
41
39
JBL 708P (Amir) (Erin) (RL)5.06.838
Adam T5V (Amir)4.46.748
Focal Alpha 65 Evo (Amir)4.36.138
Genelec 1032C******
-Genelec 8331A is no longer mentioned since 8341A exists at this price point.
-Genelec 8010A or 8020D or 8030C or 8040B is no longer mentioned since 8050B exists at this price point.
-Neumann KH 120A and KH 80 are no longer mentioned since KH 310A exists at this price point.

Active Speakers Under US$6,700/pair:
RecommendationPSPSwSubLFX
GGNTKT M17.1*8.4*29*
Buchardt Audio A500 (Erin) (RL)6.97.721
Genelec 8341A (Amir)6.98.635
Genelec 8050B (Amir)6.37.527
Neumann KH 310A (Amir)6.37.730
Kef LS50 Wireless 2 (Erin) (RL)5.87.842
Kali IN-5 (Erin) (RL)
Kali IN-8v2 (Erin) (RL)
5.4
5.4
7.3
7.2
41
39
JBL 708P (Amir) (Erin) (RL)5.06.838
Adam T5V (Amir)4.46.748
Focal Alpha 65 Evo (Amir)4.36.138
Genelec 1032C******
-Genelec 8331A is no longer mentioned since 8341A exists at this price point.
-Genelec 8010A or 8020D or 8030C or 8040B is no longer mentioned since 8050B exists at this price point.
-Neumann KH 120A and KH 80 are no longer mentioned since KH 310A exists at this price point.

Active Speakers Under US$7,000/pair:
RecommendationPSPSwSubLFX
Kef LS60 Wireless8.0*8.6*20
GGNTKT M17.1*8.4*29*
Buchardt Audio A500 (Erin) (RL)6.97.721
Genelec 8341A (Amir)6.98.635
Genelec 8050B (Amir)6.37.527
Neumann KH 310A (Amir)6.37.730
Kef LS50 Wireless 2 (Erin) (RL)5.87.842
Kali IN-5 (Erin) (RL)
Kali IN-8v2 (Erin) (RL)
5.4
5.4
7.3
7.2
41
39
JBL 708P (Amir) (Erin) (RL)5.06.838
Adam T5V (Amir)4.46.748
Focal Alpha 65 Evo (Amir)4.36.138
Genelec 1032C******
-Genelec 8331A is no longer mentioned since 8341A exists at this price point.
-Genelec 8010A or 8020D or 8030C or 8040B is no longer mentioned since 8050B exists at this price point.
-Neumann KH 120A and KH 80 are no longer mentioned since KH 310A exists at this price point.

Active Speakers Under US$7,900/pair:
RecommendationPSPSwSubLFX
Kef LS60 Wireless8.0*8.6*20*
Mesanovic RTM107.6*8.5*23*
GGNTKT M17.1*8.4*29*
Buchardt Audio A500 (Erin) (RL)6.97.721
Genelec 8341A (Amir)6.98.635
Genelec 8050B (Amir)6.37.527
Neumann KH 310A (Amir)6.37.730
Kef LS50 Wireless 2 (Erin) (RL)5.87.842
Kali IN-5 (Erin) (RL)
Kali IN-8v2 (Erin) (RL)
5.4
5.4
7.3
7.2
41
39
JBL 708P (Amir) (Erin) (RL)5.06.838
Adam T5V (Amir)4.46.748
Focal Alpha 65 Evo (Amir)4.36.138
Genelec 1032C******
-Genelec 8331A is no longer mentioned since 8341A exists at this price point.
-Genelec 8010A or 8020D or 8030C or 8040B is no longer mentioned since 8050B exists at this price point.
-Neumann KH 120A and KH 80 are no longer mentioned since KH 310A exists at this price point.

Active Speakers Under US$8,000/pair:
RecommendationPSPSwSubLFX
Kef LS60 Wireless8.0*8.6*20*
Mesanovic RTM107.6*8.5*23*
GGNTKT M17.1*8.4*29*
Genelec 8351B (Amir)7.18.429
Buchardt Audio A500 (Erin) (RL)6.97.721
Genelec S360 (Amir)6.37.935
Genelec 8050B (Amir)6.37.527
Neumann KH 310A (Amir)6.37.730
Kef LS50 Wireless 2 (Erin) (RL)5.87.842
Kali IN-5 (Erin) (RL)
Kali IN-8v2 (Erin) (RL)
5.4
5.4
7.3
7.2
41
39
JBL 708P (Amir) (Erin) (RL)5.06.838
Adam T5V (Amir)4.46.748
Focal Alpha 65 Evo (Amir)4.36.138
Genelec 1032C******
-Genelec 8331A and 8341A are no longer mentioned since 8351B exists at this price point.
-Genelec 8010A or 8020D or 8030C or 8040B is no longer mentioned since 8050B exists at this price point.
-Neumann KH 120A and KH 80 are no longer mentioned since KH 310A exists at this price point.

Active Speakers Under US$10,000/pair:
RecommendationPSPSwSubLFX
Kef LS60 Wireless8.0*8.6*20*
Mesanovic RTM107.6*8.5*23*
GGNTKT M17.1*8.4*29*
Buchardt Audio A500 (Erin) (RL)6.97.721
Genelec 8361A (Amir)6.88.027
Genelec S360 (Amir)6.37.935
Genelec 8050B (Amir)6.37.527
Neumann KH 310A (Amir)6.37.730
Kef LS50 Wireless 2 (Erin) (RL)5.87.842
Kali IN-5 (Erin) (RL)
Kali IN-8v2 (Erin) (RL)
5.4
5.4
7.3
7.2
41
39
JBL 708P (Amir) (Erin) (RL)5.06.838
Adam T5V (Amir)4.46.748
Focal Alpha 65 Evo (Amir)4.36.138
Genelec 1032C******
-Genelec 8331A and 8341A and 8351B are no longer mentioned since 8361A exists at this price point.
-Genelec 8010A or 8020D or 8030C or 8040B is no longer mentioned since 8050B exists at this price point.
-Neumann KH 120A and KH 80 are no longer mentioned since KH 310A exists at this price point.

Active Speakers Under US$10,390/pair:
RecommendationPSPSwSubLFX
Kef LS60 Wireless8.0*8.6*20*
Mesanovic RTM107.6*8.5*23*
Neumann KH 420G (Amir)7.28.224
GGNTKT M17.1*8.4*29*
Buchardt Audio A500 (Erin) (RL)6.97.721
Genelec 8361A (Amir)6.88.027
Genelec S360 (Amir)6.37.935
Genelec 8050B (Amir)6.37.527
Neumann KH 310A (Amir)6.37.730
Kef LS50 Wireless 2 (Erin) (RL)5.87.842
Kali IN-5 (Erin) (RL)
Kali IN-8v2 (Erin) (RL)
5.4
5.4
7.3
7.2
41
39
JBL 708P (Amir) (Erin) (RL)5.06.838
Adam T5V (Amir)4.46.748
Focal Alpha 65 Evo (Amir)4.36.138
Genelec 1032C******
-Genelec 8331A and 8341A and 8351B are no longer mentioned since 8361A exists at this price point.
-Genelec 8010A or 8020D or 8030C or 8040B is no longer mentioned since 8050B exists at this price point.
-Neumann KH 120A and KH 80 are no longer mentioned since KH 310A exists at this price point.

Active Speakers Under US$12,500/pair:
RecommendationPSPSwSubLFX
Kef LS60 Wireless8.0*8.6*20*
Mesanovic RTM107.6*8.5*23*
Dutch Dutch 8C (Erin) (RL)7.37.920
Neumann KH 420G (Amir)7.28.224
GGNTKT M17.1*8.4*29*
Buchardt Audio A500 (Erin) (RL)6.97.721
Genelec 8361A (Amir)6.88.027
Genelec S360 (Amir)6.37.935
Genelec 8050B (Amir)6.37.527
Neumann KH 310A (Amir)6.37.730
Kef LS50 Wireless 2 (Erin) (RL)5.87.842
Kali IN-5 (Erin) (RL)
Kali IN-8v2 (Erin) (RL)
5.4
5.4
7.3
7.2
41
39
JBL 708P (Amir) (Erin) (RL)5.06.838
Adam T5V (Amir)4.46.748
Focal Alpha 65 Evo (Amir)4.36.138
Genelec 1032C******
-Genelec 8331A and 8341A and 8351B are no longer mentioned since 8361A exists at this price point.
-Genelec 8010A or 8020D or 8030C or 8040B is no longer mentioned since 8050B exists at this price point.
-Neumann KH 120A and KH 80 are no longer mentioned since KH 310A exists at this price point.

Active Speakers Under US$15,000/pair:
RecommendationPSPSwSubLFX
Kef LS60 Wireless8.0*8.6*20*
Kii Three (Erin) (RL)7.68.220
Mesanovic RTM107.6*8.5*23*
Dutch Dutch 8C (Erin) (RL)7.37.920
Neumann KH 420G (Amir)7.28.224
GGNTKT M17.1*8.4*29*
Buchardt Audio A500 (Erin) (RL)6.97.721
Genelec 8361A (Amir)6.88.027
Genelec S360 (Amir)6.37.935
Genelec 8050B (Amir)6.37.527
Neumann KH 310A (Amir)6.37.730
Kef LS50 Wireless 2 (Erin) (RL)5.87.842
Kali IN-5 (Erin) (RL)
Kali IN-8v2 (Erin) (RL)
5.4
5.4
7.3
7.2
41
39
JBL 708P (Amir) (Erin) (RL)5.06.838
Adam T5V (Amir)4.46.748
Focal Alpha 65 Evo (Amir)4.36.138
Genelec 1032C******
-Genelec 8331A and 8341A and 8351B are no longer mentioned since 8361A exists at this price point.
-Genelec 8010A or 8020D or 8030C or 8040B is no longer mentioned since 8050B exists at this price point.
-Neumann KH 120A and KH 80 are no longer mentioned since KH 310A exists at this price point.

Bookshelf speaker (when turned 90 degrees) that can be used as a center-channel speaker:
RecommendationPSPSwSubLFX
Genelec 8351B (Amir) [US$4000/ea]7.18.429
Genelec 8341A (Amir) [US$3000/ea]6.98.639
Genelec 8361A (Amir) [US$5000/ea]6.88.027
Genelec 8331A (Erin) [US$2250/ea] (RL)6.78.639
Kef LS50 Wireless 2 (Erin) [US$2800/pair] (RL)5.87.842
Kali IN-5 (Erin) [US$350/ea] (RL)5.47.341
Kali IN-8v2 (Erin) [US$400/ea] (RL)5.47.239
Yes, these are all coaxial speakers, which have great horizontal, and vertical directivity. This makes them ideal to be used as a center channel.

Changelog:
- 2021-11-19: Launched.
- 2021-11-19: I've added a new price point (under US$2800/pair) for the Kef LS50 Wireless 2's, as well as removed Kali's recommendations for $3800/pair, and $4000/pair, and replaced with the Kefs.
- 2021-11-20: Re-organized the tables (too many words last time) for a cleaner look. Added top 3rd pick (previously only 2 top picks). Removed "Best bass speakers", since some of the recommendations of lower preference score speakers didn't make much sense, and since I've added top 3rd pick, I think this is a good compromise. Fixed several mistakes, forgetting to recommend a few Genelec models.
- 2021-11-20: Based on community feedback (posts 27,28), the Neumann KH 120A are no longer recommended above US$3800/pair, since JBL 708P exists.
- 2021-11-20: Added links to reviews by Amir and Erin
- 2021-11-22: Added missing worthy picks. Overall, previously "highly recommended" speakers are now carried forward in price brackets. This expands the number of recommendations as you go up in price brackets.
- 2021-11-23: Added amplifier column. Obviously, this is not an apples to apples comparison, but it's a step in the direction.
- 2021-11-23: Added Erin's Response Linearity test links
- 2021-11-23: Added upcoming reviews
- 2021-11-25: Removed Edifier R1280t, Mackie CR3-X, and Presonus Eris 3.5 from the list, because they fall below preference score of 3.0. As I've explained in post 61, and 63, these speakers ultimately lose to Neumi BS5P (preference score of 4.2), which is only $30 more. This also shows that we need more speakers tested under US$150/pair price point.
- 2021-11-30: Added Kii Three, takes #1 slot for studio monitors.
- 2022-01-16:
- Added JBL 4305P (press release), with PS of 6.8 and LFX 38hz, which makes it #1 from US$2200/pair until US$5900/pair (where it drops to #2 spot). We need this measured ASAP!! ;)
- Added Neumann KH 80/120, as I felt I was too harsh in the first place by keeping them out, after community feedback.
-2022-03-04: Added Genelec 8331 and Buchardt A500, reviewed by Erin
-2022-03-14: Added Focal Alpha 65 Evo, since Amir measured 2nd-sample, and it didn't have distortion isssue as previously. In addition, Amir gave it the highest panther award.
-2022-03-19: Added RCF Ayra Pro5
-2022-04-06: Added Bookshelf speakers that can be used as a center channel
-2022-05-01: Added Neumann KH 420G
-2022-05-18: Removed JBL 4305P (PS of 6.8, provided by vendor), since actual PS is 5.4 (as per Erin)
-2022-06-08: Forgot to add Genelec 8010A (review by Amir) and 8020D (no review, so estimated PS).
-2022-06-21: Highlighted new speakers for each price table in colour red.
-2022-06-29: Added PSwSub = Preference Score with perfectly-integrated-subwoofer.
-2022-07-03: Added Kef LS60 Wireless b/c Kef makes well-engineered speakers, so we can expect this to be excellent.
-2022-07-03: Removed Amplifiers tab, since it's not apples-to-apples between vendors, but kept the Response Linearity (RL) links.
-2022-08-01: Added Genelec S360 (Amir)
-2022-08-02: Removed "1,2,3, worthy" and "RL" columns. To simplify the table.
-2022-08-03: Removed Kef LSX and Focal Solo6 Be. They are both discontinued now. Added Genelec 1032C (expected to be excellent, based on recent Genelec S360 measurements).
- 2022-09-09: Added Kef LS60 Wireless. Based on latest spinorama from an ASR member.
 
Last edited:

hege

Senior Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Dec 25, 2018
Messages
315
Likes
487
Location
Finland
What is the source for these "-6dB" bass figures? Many seem to be 3-5dB below manufacturer and ASR measurements.
 

Eetu

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 11, 2020
Messages
632
Likes
879
Location
Helsinki
Thanks for this!

Is there a reason you haven't included the Kef LS50 Wireless II? It has a higher pref score than the Kali IN series.

Also according to Genelec data the 8040B doesn't look as smooth as the 8030C. Perhaps the LFX would still help it achieve a higher score..
IMG_20211120_080417.jpg
IMG_20211119_174821.jpg
 
OP
sweetchaos

sweetchaos

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
The Curator
Joined
Nov 29, 2019
Messages
2,834
Likes
7,667
Location
BC, Canada
What is the source for these "-6dB" bass figures? Many seem to be 3-5dB below manufacturer and ASR measurements.
PIerre's github.

It's the Low Frequency Extension (LFX) score, which is computed when you calculate the preference score.
https://patents.google.com/patent/US8311232
The low frequency extension (LFX) and quality (LFQ) of the loudspeaker are the final two variables. LFX is defined by Equation 8:
LFX=log10(x SP-6dB re: y — LW(300 Hz-10 kHz))  (8)
where LFX is the log10 of the first frequency xSP below 300 Hz in the sound power curve, that is −6 dB relative to the mean level y_LW measured in listening window (LW) between 300 Hz-10 kHz. LFX is log-transformed to produce a linear relationship between the variable LFX and preference rating.
 

hege

Senior Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Dec 25, 2018
Messages
315
Likes
487
Location
Finland
PIerre's github.

It's the Low Frequency Extension (LFX) score, which is computed when you calculate the preference score.

Live and learn.. I've read most of the stuff on this forum, but somehow missed the relation of these.. :)

Seems very optimistic numbers, but I guess as long as they are all calculated the same way it's fine..
 
OP
sweetchaos

sweetchaos

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
The Curator
Joined
Nov 29, 2019
Messages
2,834
Likes
7,667
Location
BC, Canada
Thanks for this!

Is there a reason you haven't included the Kef LS50 Wireless II? It has a higher pref score than the Kali IN series.

Also according to Genelec data the 8040B doesn't look as smooth as the 8030C. Perhaps the LFX would still help it achieve a higher score..
View attachment 166773View attachment 166774
Missed it. I've added a new price point (under US$2800/pair) for the Kef LS50 Wireless 2's, as well as removed Kali's recommendations for $3800/pair, and $4000/pair, and replaced with the Kefs.

Yes, I believe LFX will help it. Once we have the spinorama, I'll update it of course.
 
OP
sweetchaos

sweetchaos

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
The Curator
Joined
Nov 29, 2019
Messages
2,834
Likes
7,667
Location
BC, Canada
Meh, LFX for most actives is sort of arbitrary/meaningless anyway since they're almost all EQed to trade some headroom for extra extension, compared to a similar passive.
I'm not following. The actives have the deeper extension than passives, since they are EQ'd. But are you saying the LFX for actives is not representative?
 

Sancus

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Nov 30, 2018
Messages
2,422
Likes
6,112
Location
Canada
I'm not following. The actives have the deeper extension than passives, since they are EQ'd. But are you saying the LFX for actives is not representative?

It's not representative because you can EQ any active to any amount of extension, almost. The difference between a -6dB point of 40hz and 30hz is just a filter, not a physical property of the speaker. And there's no standard, manufacturers tune their EQ to whatever they like.

For example, the JBL 708i has 38hz -6dB point and the 8341A has 39hz. Any guesses on which has more actual bass output when the 708i has a lot more woofer area and a 50% larger cabinet? :p This is why Genelecs often "run out of steam" for Amir when cheaper passives and less-aggressively tuned actives don't.

The LFX point on an active is just EQ smoke-and-mirrors without doing a CEA2010-style test of the woofer or at least looking at the distortion profile. And if you have your own EQ, or it's built into the speaker like GLM, you can pretty much change the -6dB point to ANYTHING you want -- the only question is when will you create too much distortion.

E: I'm not saying it's completely useless or you should redo your chart, more that worrying about +/- 10hz is pointless. Obviously no manufacturer is going to push it so far that the speaker doesn't even sound good at reasonable levels.... I hope lol.
 
Last edited:

Daverz

Major Contributor
Joined
Mar 17, 2019
Messages
1,123
Likes
1,180
How can the Neumann KH 120A be $1500/pair and $3800/pair?
 
OP
sweetchaos

sweetchaos

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
The Curator
Joined
Nov 29, 2019
Messages
2,834
Likes
7,667
Location
BC, Canada
How can the Neumann KH 120A be $1500/pair and $3800/pair?
It retails for US$1460/pair.

Under US$1500/pair, the closest competitor is Genelec 8030C's has a score of of 6.3. Since Neumann KH 120A is better (pref score 6.7), it's #1 spot at that price point.
Under US$3800/pair, the closest competitor is Genelec 8050B's has a score of of 6.3. Since Neumann KH 120A is better (pref score 6.7), it's #1 spot at that price point.
 

Pearljam5000

Major Contributor
Joined
Oct 12, 2020
Messages
2,559
Likes
2,723
It retails for US$1460/pair.

Under US$1500/pair, the closest competitor is Genelec 8030C's has a score of of 6.3. Since Neumann KH 120A is better (pref score 6.7), it's #1 spot at that price point.
Under US$3800/pair, the closest competitor is Genelec 8050B's has a score of of 6.3. Since Neumann KH 120A is better (pref score 6.7), it's #1 spot at that price point.
There is no way KH120 is better than 8050B and I've heard them both
In fact I would rank KH120 lower than 8030C
 

thewas

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 15, 2020
Messages
4,768
Likes
10,590
The table while being a nice effort shows also the limitations of ranking loudspeakers just by the Harman score which ignores SPL abilities, distortions and suitable listening distances, like for example:

Under US$6700/pair:
NotesSpeakerPreference Score (no sub)LFX (Bass extension at -6db)
Most preferred speaker (ie. best preference score)GGNTKT M1*7.129hz
2nd-best in terms of preference scoreNeumann KH 120A6.742hz
Best bass output of top 5 ranked speakers (ignoring preference score)GGNTKT M1*7.129hz
Notable Mention: 3-way, highly recommended by AmirNeumann KH 310A6.230hz

No one who would compare these in real would chose the KH120 in that budget range as its SPL, deep bass and listening distance limited, I say that having owned them myself, they are very good compact nearfield monitors for small listening distances and not more.
 

abdo123

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Nov 15, 2020
Messages
6,458
Likes
6,507
Location
Brussels, Belgium
While the preference score is the only objective measure that we have, it's far from perfect to be used like that.

Around the ~2500$ mark you really need to audition these speakers yourself. the differences are way too minute.
 

dasdoing

Major Contributor
Joined
May 20, 2020
Messages
2,700
Likes
1,502
Location
Salvador-Bahia-Brasil
since many of these will be used in treated spaces could we possibly have something like a "treated room preference score"? because afaik the standard one has big emphasis on dispersion which becomes much less relevant in a treated room.

on a sidenote: i would go as far as even giving less emphasis on the FR, cause we are all EQing. the T5V HF boost is very easily EQed for example. done that it seams to be a better product than the Kali LP-6v2 for example
 

LearningToSmile

Active Member
Joined
Jun 29, 2020
Messages
251
Likes
410
Nice write-up. Interesting that JBL308p mkII seem to have went up in price a lot, two years ago I bought them for $400 locally and remember seeing them even lower in the states. Now they're $500+.
 

Sprint

Senior Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Sep 19, 2019
Messages
429
Likes
253
There is no way KH120 is better than 8050B and I've heard them both
In fact I would rank KH120 lower than 8030C
Fully agree with @Pearljam5000. I have heard KH120 and 8030 side by side. Though KH120 is good but 8030 is way better and musical. But then KH310 is better than 8030 due to 3 way.
 

pierre

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Jul 1, 2017
Messages
746
Likes
1,903
Location
Switzerland
PIerre's github.

It's the Low Frequency Extension (LFX) score, which is computed when you calculate the preference score.
https://patents.google.com/patent/US8311232

hello,
the software computes 2 values:
1) LFX from the Harman score
2) -3db (resp. -6dB) v.s. the mean freq across (300-10k Hz) for On Axis measurement.

the second one is the classical one (ex: Genelec 8361 official spec 30Hz at -6dB ; computed 29Hz)
 
Last edited:

Tom C

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jun 16, 2019
Messages
1,013
Likes
874
Location
USA
Thank you, @sweetchaos! Awesome effort, as always.
I find this super useful. It’s only when you start ranking the various options according to price and performance that things start to make sense and come into focus.
It’s interesting that for this list, there is a correlation between price and preference score. Also interesting how much more you have to spend at the upper levels to get a significant increase in preference score.
I don’t think any reasonable person recommends buying something expensive based on preference score only. But it is a handy and helpful tool.
 

dfuller

Major Contributor
Joined
Apr 26, 2020
Messages
2,221
Likes
3,138
since many of these will be used in treated spaces could we possibly have something like a "treated room preference score"? because afaik the standard one has big emphasis on dispersion which becomes much less relevant in a treated room.

on a sidenote: i would go as far as even giving less emphasis on the FR, cause we are all EQing. the T5V HF boost is very easily EQed for example. done that it seams to be a better product than the Kali LP-6v2 for example
In a treated room, pay more attention to listening window than anything else.

That said: Preference score is a pretty poor indicator of actual listening experience with these speakers, IMO. It places too much emphasis on early reflections which for most active speakers is not really how they're meant to be used - most of these are studio monitors which are meant for near to midfield listening in well-treated rooms.
 
Last edited:
Top Bottom